Using Bogus Service Dogs To Obtain Privileges Is Now A Crime

A pet owner who pretends his or her pet is a service dog gains entry into places where animals would otherwise be banned. It’s a growing problem and a slap in the face to the reputation of real service dogs and the genuine needs of the handicapped among us.

Three categories for animals allowed to go where average pets cannot

Emotional Support Animals may or may not have special training, but their purpose doesn’t really require any. They are there solely to provide comfort for someone with a documented mental health condition. Therapy animals, on the other hand, are usually registered through an agency and their purpose is to aid those in need. They are devoted to providing emotional support. Therapy animals have no additional rights under the ADA, but certain settings may allow them access to hospitals and schools at the discretion of the organization.

There is no law requiring service animals to wear vests, but they are always specially trained to perform tasks such as: pressing elevator buttons, retrieving dropped items from wheelchairs; alerting hearing-impaired people to doorbells and smoke alarms; providing balance to those with prosthetic limbs and sensing when a person is having a medical emergency. For veterans with PTSD, they can prevent strangers from crowding too close.

#2. Clover and Kyle

Using Bogus Service Dogs To Obtain Privileges Is Now A Crime
National Service Clover and Kyle

No matter which of the three categories an animal may fall into, any business has the right to expect the animal to be restrained and not pose a threat to the health or safety of other patrons. This includes any type of disruptive behavior and also any indications that the animal is not house-broken.

The new law about bogus service dogs

In an effort to curb the growing problem of fake service dogs, state legislators are considering a bill, which would make it a civil offense to misrepresent a pet as a service animal. The bill is aimed at exposing those operations that sell untrained or poorly trained dogs to the disabled, especially to veterans, potentially putting them in harm’s way.

In Massachusetts the bill is modeled along the lines of similar laws in Florida and Colorado, and its key sponsor is Republican Representative, Kimberly Ferguson. In her own words: “I could go online right now and get a service dog ID kit, and I certainly don’t have a service dog. Our goal is to prevent abuse of the system, because animals that aren’t legitimate service dogs can give true service dogs a bad reputation, and that does a terrible disservice.”

#3 Service Dogs At Work

Using Bogus Service Dogs To Obtain Privileges Is Now A Crime  Using Bogus Service Dogs To Obtain Privileges Is Now A Crime
WilleeCole Photography /

So if you are out there using your pet as a fake service dog, you should be ashamed and if you are not, keep it up, and you may soon be charged with a crime.

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